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Winchester to make Non Lead Rimfire Ammo


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#1 OrneryOlMofo357

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 01:13 PM

Print Email Font ResizeNon-lead rimfire ammo on its wayJim Matthews, Outdoor WriterPosted: 02/13/2009 01:30:03 AM PSTWINCHESTER Ammunition announced it would be marketing three non-lead rimfire products that comply with a California lead ammunition ban within the range of the California condor, including the first non-lead .22 Long Rifle load. The ammunition industry was a little stunned by the California Fish and Game Commission decision in late 2007 to include rimfire ammunition in the ban that took affect July 1, 2008. The legislature and Commission originally said they wanted to look at potential impacts of lead rimfire hunting ammunition before including it in a ban. But recent studies made the commission decide to err on the side of caution when it included rimfires in their rulemaking. Hunters now must use non-lead ammunition when hunting within a zone occupied by endangered California condors in the central part of the state. This includes rifles, handguns and shotguns firing slugs or buckshot (large pellets used for bigger game and coyotes). Lead shotgun ammunition used for birds and small game hunting was not included in the ban because there is no evidence of the small shot ever poisoning condors or other wildlife. Hunters even can use lead rimfire ammunition to hunt small game - cottontails and tree squirrels - in the condor zone because this game almost always is retrieved and the lead removed from field where it could be scavenged. But hunters cannot use the lead rimfire ammunition for jackrabbits, ground squirrels and other non-game animals which are frequently left in the field and might expose scavengers to lead bullet residue. Brad Criner, Winchester's rimfire product manager, said the three new loads - one for the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire (WMR) and two for the .22 Long Rifle (LR) - use a patented tin bullet technology to make them non-lead. "I can't say what the product will sell for at a retail level, but at the end of the day, tin does cost more than lead so it will be more expensive because of the raw material costs," Criner said. "But we have tried very hard to keep the cost down." The .22 LR load will be offered in two versions: a tin hollow-point for varmint hunting and a tin round nose for small game. The new load will feature a 30-grain lubed tin bullet at 1,650 feet per second, which makes it the fastest domestically made .22 LR on the market. The .22 WMR load will be loaded with a copper-jacketed, tin core hollowpoint that weighs 28 grains and chugs out the end of the barrel at 2,200 feet per second. That equals the fastest rimfire .22 magnum load on the market. Criner said the loads "would not provide as big an upset" or expansion as the equivalent lead loads but hunters would find them very effective. "We recognize the growing customer demand and interest in lead-free products and we're moving to meet that demand," Criner said. The first production runs of the .22 WMR loads will be done in April this year, and the product should start finding its way onto dealers' shelves by the end of that month or early May. The .22 LR production will begin in May and ammunition should available in limited quantities by June. Before the Winchester announcement, there was only one non-lead rimfire load on the market, a .22 WMR load offered by CCI-Federal. There were no .22 Long Rifle loads available and none of the companies have announced either .17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire (HMR) or .17 Mach II, although both Winchester and CCI-Federal hint they will have these rimfire products in their lineup in 2010. Costs for the currently available CCI TNT Green ammunition are more than for just about any other .22 magnum ammunition you can buy. In the Midway mail order catalog, the CCI ammo is $13.49 a box while the standard .22 mag CCI Maxi-Mag load is only $10.99. The promotional Winchester Dynapoint .22 mag ammo was just $8.79. Don Geivet, game manager of the Tejon Ranch, said he and his staff have been shooting the CCI TNT Green in the field for nearly a year. "I think it's pretty good stuff," Geivet said. "People shooting it on the ranch generally give it a very favorable rating. It's certainly on par with lead." Jim Matthews can be reached at odwriter@verizon.net. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------




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